Silicon Bus Stop: A change of venue
On Monday 1st July we held our Preston Raspberry Jam at the CPC offices in Fulwood, Preston. We normally hold our Jam events at the University, but I wanted to explore the use of different venue. I had been to visit the offices a few times before and wondered if it would make a suitable location for holding events.
In Fulwood where I live, we have a handful of Tech companies including IBM and I jokingly refer to it as ‘Silicon Bus Stop’.
The Scratch Dojo format: The format for this Raspberry Jam event was a Scratch Dojo. After visiting the London Python Dojo organised by the inimitable Nicholas Tollervey, I was inspired to consider doing this at one of our Raspberry Jams with children, families & teachers. It’s a format that I’ve now embedded in my teaching and teacher training CPD events.
At the start of the evening, about 6.30-7.00pm, everyone who had brought a Raspberry Pi and display with them were asked to set up their computer in one of the office rooms.
Then, just after 7pm, we gathered everyone together in a large group in the sofa area and we considered as many projects we could work on as possible and every one had a chance to make a suggestion. We then voted for the project idea that held the most scope for interest and challenge levels. This time we voted for ‘Frogger‘.
Arranging the groups: I then split our attendees into 8 different groups of 5 – 6 per team, but trying to keep younger children with their parents. Each team was assigned an office room and they went off to work on their ‘Frogger’ project.
Each team was asked to first introduce themselves to each other and then nominate the first ‘driver’. The role of the driver is to do what the other navigators in the room instruct them to. To facilitate discussion and creative collaboration, the role of the driver was swapped every 5 minutes so that everyone had an opportunity to drive. In the teams that had very young children 5- 8yrs old, they chose to let the children do the majority of the driving.
When assigning people to teams, I tried to make sure there was an even balance of children, teenagers, parents, teachers and other adults.
What was interesting with the layout was that because each team was working away in a separate office, it gave them their own private space to develop their ideas and solutions without being distracted by what the other groups were doing. There were lots of similarities in the ways that the groups organised themselves.
We had 10 large office/meeting rooms available spread over two floors and a large atrium area with sofas and tables. While the venue may not be quite as glamourous as Google’s Mountain View offices in Silicon Valley, it is certainly a great space for inspiring creativity.
Assigning the Voyagers: After the teams had been working for about half an hour I went around each of the rooms and recruited a ‘voyager’. I then met with all of the voyagers together in the sofa area and briefed them on their next mission. I explained how they were going to have 3 minutes to visit each of the other rooms to gather as much information and as many ideas as possible, before returning to their original team to tell them what they had seen on their travels.
I then asked if anybody wanted a break, but all of the teams seemed happy to continue until the end.
Show and tell: The layout of the foyer and sofa area didn’t really lend itself to a large theatre style show and tell activity, also there would have been the problem of projecting everyone’s Frogger game large enough. The Faraday room on the first floor may have been ideal, but it was unavailable to us at the time. So, I planned a different structure for the show & tell.
Instead, at 8.45pm, I went around and visited each of the teams and asked them to go and visit the other teams to see what their games looked like. This gave some their first opportunity to dicover how others had created their Frogger game and to actually try playing the games as well. Most people drew the same conclusion (no matter what team they were in):
“It was great to see how other teams solved the same problem, but ours was the best”
Packing up: By 9pm we had managed to pack all of the Raspberry Pi computers back in our cars, and assemble outside for a group photo. Unfortunately, a few families left before the photo. Next time, we’ll take a photo at the beginning of the evening.
The verbal feedback was very encouraging. Some people had travelled great distances and wanted to talk about having Raspberry Jam events in their schools and colleges.
The next Preston Raspberry Jam will be on Monday 5th August for talks & demonstrations. Our next family style dojo will be on Monday 2nd September.